Business: Tempest in a Coffee Pot

Last week Leon Henderson found that his price domain ends at the water's edge. He tried to monkey with the price of coffee, and ran into the Department of State, which is in the coffee business itself.

Defying laws of supply & demand, coffee has been moving up on all fronts at once: stocks, imports and price (see chart). So Leon Henderson called to his deskside the men who live by coffee. He knew that a number of leading operators had been wisely stocking up, while small fry, caught short, bid up the price. He...